Conversations with my Brain

‘Here we go again,’ I think, looking across at the clock. ‘For God’s sake! Its four o’clock in the morning. Can’t you just let me go back to sleep?’

But my brain is having none of it. ‘I’ve thought of a great idea.’

I tut. ‘Shut up and leave me alone.’

‘But you’ll like it, I promise.’

‘No! I’m tired.’

‘Come on, you’ll love me for it in the morning.’

‘No, I won’t!’

‘OK, suit yourself, but you’ll be cursing when you wake up and you’ve totally forgotten that brilliant idea I gave you, and all because you couldn’t be bothered writing it down. You’ll be sitting at that machine again, getting frustrated because it all sounds rubbish. And here I am, giving it away for free.’

‘Alright!’ I snap. ‘But make it quick. You know I find it hard to get back to sleep again once I’m fully awake.’

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It’s at this point that I decide my brain must be male. What woman would put me through this night after night? I picture him bouncing around with anticipation.

‘OK,’ he says, his voice full of enthusiasm now. ‘It’s about that bit you were struggling with?’

‘Oh yeah,’ I say, warming to him.

‘Yeah. I’ve thought of a brilliant way you can get round it.’

I try to shake off my sleepiness. I’d love to just turn over and go back to sleep right now but I know I daren’t miss this opportunity. I flick the bedside lamp on, the light stinging my tired eyes. Then I turn the light down low and reach for my notepad.

‘Come on then, but just this once and then I’m done. What have you got?’

‘OK, here goes. You should go back in time in the next chapter and keep the readers waiting for the denouement. There’s a bit you left unexplained anyway so it will keep them interested while they’re flicking through the pages like they’re swatting a fly.’ I can feel the excitement oozing out of him as he adds, ‘Ooh, they’ll be so eager to get to the next chapter.’

I must admit, I’m quite impressed with the idea and I quickly jot it down in my little notepad in the semi-darkness, hoping it will be legible in the morning. It’s not long before I fill in two pages then I switch the lamp back off and try to relax.

But the brain is fully awake now and it’s not long before he disturbs me again. ‘Eh, I’ve thought of something else.’

‘Don’t push your luck! I only agreed to the one idea.’

‘But I’ve thought of a great cliff-hanger. Chapter 41, the one you’ve just written, it ended a bit drearily, didn’t it?’

‘It wasn’t that bad.’

‘Oh, it was! And it wasn’t half as good as chapter 40. But I know a way you can spice it up.’

I try to ignore him and carry on with my quest to get back to sleep. ‘You’ll thank me for it in the morning,’ he whispers, tapping at my skull.

‘You’re such a pain in the arse!’

‘Yeah, but you love me for it, don’t you?’

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I can’t resist a smile as I switch the lamp back on and scribble down some more notes. Again, I’m impressed. My conscious mind would never have thought of that. This time I switch the light off quickly, turn over and wrap the duvet around my head, in a vague attempt to drown out the constant interruptions. But it’s no use; he’s soon making his presence felt.

‘Psst. Me again. Have you thought about what you’re going to put in the chapter after next?’

‘No, I’ll deal with it in the morning.’

‘You sure?’ he asks, sounding hurt. ‘Only…’

‘Stop it! You’re giving me bloody writer’s cramp.’

‘I’m worth it though. Go on. Write it down. You know you want to… Please… Pretty please.’

I swipe the duvet viciously away, feeling myself weakening into submission again. ‘For God’s sake! Why do you always get your own bloody way?’

‘Because you love me.’

‘You wish! And stop being so bloody cute!’ I say resignedly as I switch on the lamp for the third time.

The thought occurs to me that if there are shift workers living across the way, then they probably think I’m practising Morse code. This bloody lamp has been on and off so many times, and it was the same last night. What I wouldn’t give for a decent night’s sleep! But I know that will be impossible until I’ve cracked it with this novel.

After the fourth interruption, I finally settle down to sleep. But I wake up in the morning feeling groggy with the after-effects of a restless night. I switch on the lamp one more time and swing my legs out of bed.

Then I notice it. The pad on the bedside cabinet. I pick it up and quickly flick through. Five pages full of notes, both sides. Wow! I’m ecstatic.

‘Y’know brain, you’re not so bad after all,’ I admit, grudgingly.

‘It’s only because I care. I did it all for you.’

I smile. ‘I know. I suppose it was worth it.’

Then I rush downstairs, determined to overcome my grogginess and get this lot down on the PC while I’m still buzzing.

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The Writer Behind the Words

The new Budweiser advert for the American Super Bowl is causing quite a stir. In it, Dame Helen Mirren warns viewers against the foolishness of drink-driving. Here’s the link if you want to check it out: Budweiser ad 2016.

Helen Mirren opens the ad by describing herself as a ‘notoriously frank and uncensored British lady’ while regal music plays in the background. She then goes on to launch an articulate tirade of insults against anyone who drink-drives.

She is the perfect choice for the advertisement; a commanding figure who previously played the starring role in ‘The Queen’. Her delivery is undoubtedly excellent. The words convey the message perfectly while the accompanying video footage advertises Budweiser beer by displaying Dame Helen’s enjoyment of a Bud with burger and fries. The words to the advertisement may even have been written with Dame Helen Mirren in mind.

While she may describe herself as ‘notoriously frank and uncensored’ in the ad, the British press have proudly used a range of descriptions for her including, ‘elegant and eloquent’. But it made me wonder who the person behind the words is. This thought often runs through my mind when watching TV. Something will capture my imagination and I’ll think, ‘that’s a clever bit of writing’.

TV

It’s something that people often lose sight of; behind every TV advertisement, film, drama, documentary, billboard ad etc. there is a writer. Ironically, while actors and actresses are lauded for their performances, the writers who supply their words are seldom mentioned. I checked the media coverage of several newspapers and TV channels for the Budweiser advertisement, yet not one of them mentioned the writer. In fact, they didn’t even mention which advertising company Budweiser had used to produce the advertisement.

So, what other media are writers involved in?

Ooh, just about everything: TV, radio scripts, cinema, theatre, billboard campaigns, mailshots, email campaigns, the Internet and social media. In fact, major companies employ copywriters specifically to manage their social media accounts as well as produce regular blog posts for their websites. Even prime ministerial and presidential speeches are penned by writers; people who are employed to write speeches on their behalf.

Speeches

If I was to ask you to name the best speech of all time you would probably say Martin Luther King, ‘I Have a Dream’, or the Obama Victory Speech of 2008. But what if I was to ask you who wrote those speeches? The majority of people wouldn’t know. Incidentally, the memorable part of Martin Luther’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech was probably written by himself although he delivered it without referring to the text. You can read the full story here: I Have a Dream Speech.

Writers are the people who hide in the background but are behind so many impactful words that many of us will retain in our memories for years to come. Many writers prefer it that way. We are often shy and retiring types, and I for one have no desire whatsoever to appear on the stage. But wouldn’t it be nice if, in circumstances such as the above, the writer received even a one line mention in acknowledgement of his/her input.

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